Get me to the Taj on time

Malavika >> On Saturday, we found ourselves rubbing shoulders with some of the leading personalities of the billion dollar wedding industry in India. Organised by the Taj to announce the unveiling of ‘The Taj Wedding Barometer’ — a pan Indian survey conducted by IPSOS, aimed at understanding the attitudes of Indians towards the concept of marriage, the afternoon saw a coming together of people responsible for pulling off some of the biggest, fattest weddings of all time like uber wedding planner Gurleen Puri, the Taj’s corporate chef Hemant Oberoi, along with its team of Deepa Harris, senior vice-president, sales & marketing, and VP sales Renu Basu amongst others. Weddings are big business in India and account for a large part of Taj revenue.

But of course the bottom line was alluded to in only the most genteel of terms. “Weddings at the Taj have always been iconic,” said the elegant Harris, a statement behind which lay thousands of blushing brides, satisfied parents-in-law and generations of loyal customers. And in many cases it has all begun at the Sea Lounge’s legendary ‘lucky match–making sofa’ where boy meets girl meetings are conducted round the clock and to mostly great success.

Hemant Oberoi

“There’s a whole ritual involved,” said Basu about the famous procedure. “The families meet, the couple is introduced, and then they retire to another sofa to suss each other out. If they see potential, a signal is passed on to the elders through the placing of cutlery and so on and so forth.” But, by far the most delightful fact that emerged from an afternoon of them was when the legendary Chef Oberoi, the superstar of weddings and the man to whom couples turn to make their dreams come true — revealed that he himself had been afforded the privilege of conducting the 75th wedding anniversary party of his own parents only recently in Delhi.” “They are in there nineties,” he said to us beaming with pride, “And looked every bit in as in love as a newly wedded couple!” We like!

Renu Basu

Tulsi Pipe road and the IDF
>> Next weekend all roads will lead to the NCPA where The India Design Forum (IDF) will be held for the first time in the city. Created by the Coimbatore Centre for Contemporary Art (COCCA) to bring masters in the fields of design to the designers of the future in India, “The India Design Forum 2013 will encourage dialogue between academia and industry and facilitate cross design cultural thinking and application,” says the woman behind the imitative industrialist and noted patron of art Rajshree Pathy.

However, by far, the speaker whose most sparked our interest is Jakub Szczesny, co-founder of Centrala, a design cooperative from Warsaw, Poland, whose claim to fame is as the man who has designed the world’s narrowest house. Described as someone who works on the cutting line between architecture practice, urban criticism and art, we suggest he visits the Tulsi Pipe road area where he will be undoubtedly staggered by the innovative homes people have created!

The world’s narrowest house designed by Jakub Szczesny

PM hopefuls
>> Talk about PM candidates should the Congress return in 2014 is getting more curious: “Whereas everyone has bought into the ‘Rahul will opt for the Sonia-Manmohan model and look for a technocrat to play to his backroom party leadership’, the names said to be on his list are bizarre.

Rahul Gandhi

P Chidambaram and Jairam Ramesh are currently being touted. But the dark horse is someone who might just pip all to the post,” said our source, a leading banker. “Nandan Nilekani! From private industry but with socialistic and liberal street cred too.” And what do we think? We think if the Congress does return there’ll be a Gandhi in the chair!

(From left) P Chidambaram, Nandan Nilekani, Jairam Ramesh

Eavesdropping at store launches
>> Thursday night on our way to the gym we stopped off at what looked like an interesting carnival at the street next door. On further enquiry it turned out to be the launch of the 150th Mark Cain store in the world at Napean Sea road! With music, wine and a host of familiar faces from the glam and fashion world, the celebrated Italian design store with a presence in 59 countries had come to Napean Sea road with its new Spring Summer ’13 collection. We never know what to do with ourselves at store openings so we spend all our time eavesdropping on conversations. Here are three worth reporting:

Punit Agarwal, Evelyn Sharma and Norbert Lock

a) Sushma Reddy to unknown guest: By coincidence I found myself at a Diwali card party on the same table as Punit Agarwal, owner of the Marc Cain franchise stores in India and UAE and Pujit Aggarwal, MD and CEO of the luxury real estate group Orbit in whose building the latest Marc Cain store has opened. And they hadn’t met till then!”
b) Esha Deol to Zoom TV anchor Simi Chandoke, creator of the Page Three tsunami: Even though you give us hell in your shows and it often hurts it make us pause and reflect …”
c) And lastly unknown socialite to random unknown socialite, “And the husband who’d set up CCTV cameras in their bedroom was shocked when he saw what his wife was up to with her gym instructor.” Who said store openings are boring?

Scandal in the making
>> It has the makings of the mother of all scandals. The multi billion-dollar real estate group headquartered in Delhi, which had purchased a celebrated international luxury hotel chain and then mysteriously sold it off is heading for what is said to be its most lucrative transaction.

Sushma Reddy

Apparently, what was held back in the sale was the international chain’s Delhi property said to be one of the most valuable in the world if it can be sold as residential and office space.

Simi Chandoke, Yukta Mookhey and  Pradeep Hirani

And guess who they’re looking to do the ‘needful’? None other than the country’s most famous son-in-law. If that is not going to raise hackles what is? 

Esha Deol and Bharat Takhtani

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